|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Valve||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Fall 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16 (online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
Team Fortress 2 has been a long time coming. Originally shown at E3 in 1999, gamers are still eagerly anticipating the release of this multiplayer shooter. It looks like the game will finally see the light of day, as Team Fortress 2 is part of the Half-Life 2: Orange Box bundle that will hopefully be released at the close of this year.
Team Fortress 2 is the sequel to Team Fortress, a game that started life as a multiplayer mod for Quake a decade ago. Team Fortress was unique in that it used class based warfare, an original idea in a gaming world that was used to simple FPS deathmatches for competition. Team Fortress 2 is going to build upon the gameplay established by its predecessor while obviously taking advantage of the new and more powerful software that has become available.
Team Fortress 2 has seen a lot of different looks in its years of development, but at its core it is an online multiplayer shooting game. You can choose from several different character classes and defeat your opponents. Each class has a distinct look and feel, with different weapons, strengths and weaknesses. For example, the engineer class has the ability to set up a turret to mow down potential attackers. The scout class is the fastest character, jetting around the various stages with unmatched speed, but he lacks the power of the other classes. The strong Heavy class lugs around a mini-gun that will slaughter opponents quickly and boasts the most health of any character, but also moves much more slowly than the other classes. In addition to these classes, there are also Medics, Spies, Demolition Men, Snipers, Soldiers and the Pyro class.
Each class in the game feels distinct and offers a completely difference experience than another class. For example, the double-jumping Scout is swift on his feet, able to run circles around the other characters. He carries a scattergun, a pistol, and a baseball bat into battle, so he's more suited for quick hit and run tactics, as opposed to the Heavy, who's much slower but carries a minigun and a shotgun. Medics can replenish the health of teammates, Snipers are good from afar, and Pyros are good up close with their flamethrowers and shotguns. Spies can blend into the background and can initiate one-hit stealth kills on unsuspecting foes and Soldiers carry rocket launchers and shotguns into battle. The Demolition Men toss around demo charges and grenades and can even remotely trigger some explosives. All in all, there is a lot of variety in the gameplay depending on which class you choose, since some classes are more suited to offense, defense, support, and solo play.
Team Fortress 2 also has a distinct visual appearance as well. The overall look resembles a Pixar animated feature, with cartoony characters with exaggerated features. The Heavy is a hulking giant of a man with broad shoulders and a tiny head, while the Engineer sports a hardhat, a large wrench, and a large jaw. The spy is thin with a face mask that gives him a sinister look. The backgrounds are all cartoony as well, which vibe well with the game's over the top feel. However, even despite its cartoony appearance, the game still has its share of violence, with dismemberments and blood splattering explosions possible in the right situations.
Team Fortress 2 is a distinct experience from most other multiplayer games. The first distinction comes from the fact that the maps and game modes are tied together, which decreases customizability but ensures that the selected map is appropriate for the chosen gameplay mode. The some of the available gameplay modes include a variation on capture the flag as well as a mode where the team works in concert to control certain points on a stage. Valve is also promising free updates to further the experience after release.
Team Fortress 2 is definitely shaping up to be a fun and interesting multiplayer experience. It is also part of an irresistible bargain. Since it is bundled in with the Half-Life 2: Orange Box package, Team Fortress 2 will come free with Half-Life 2, Episode One, Episode Two, and Portal, all for the regular retail price of a normal game. Since Team Fortress 2 may be worth the price of admission alone, most fans of shooters and online warfare would probably be inclined to pick this game up when it releases (hopefully) later this year.
CCC Co-Site Director